(aka: Bichon Maltiase, Roman Ladies' Dog, Maltese Lion Dog, Ancient dog of Malta, Canis Melitaeus)
The Maltese is a small, very elegant and dainty looking dog, with a sweet expression and a dignified stance. The coat of the Maltese is long and straight, with a beautiful silky texture. The coloring of the coat is white, and the Maltese may have some light lemon coloring on the ears. These small dogs are only around 4-6 pounds in weight, and around 8 inches in height.
The Maltese is a popular toy dog, ranking fairly high on the AKC popularity list. Mild mannered, affectionate, and loving, the Maltese makes a fine companion dog and a good family pet. Thee dogs are well suited to inexperienced dog owners as well as to the more experienced, and their intelligence, alertness, and high learning rate helps to make training easier - although they can be very difficult to housebreak. The Maltese has plenty of energy and spirit, and loves to play. He has an inquisitive and curious nature, and for a small dog can be quite confident when well socialized. These dogs tend to fare well in obedience training, and enjoy a variety of mental stimulation to keep them alert.
The Maltese is a dog that thrives on the love, affection, and companionship of his family, and is not the breed for those with little time to dedicate to a pet. He makes an effective watchdog, as he will bark to raise an alarm or to announce visitors. The Maltese gets along well with children but does not like to be handled roughly, so gentler, older children are best suited to this breed. They will usually be police and friendly around strangers, but many will not get along with other pets, and may stand up to much larger dogs. This breed will be fine with apartment living, but needs regular leashed walks or a safe, securely fenced area to exercise and play.
When it comes to grooming, you will need to brush the beautiful coat of the Maltese on a daily basis in order to keep it looking good. Clipping may be required every couple of months. You should also check that the eyes are clean, and trim the hair around the bottom for hygiene reasons. To reduce the risk of infection you should ensure that his ears are clean and dry. When properly groomed the Maltese is a low shedder, and can therefore prove suitable for those with allergies.
The Maltese is the oldest European toy breeds, and amongst the oldest of all breeds. The breed itself can be traced back many centuries; Charles Darwin places them as far back at about 6ooo B.C. Though its exact origins are unknown, it is believed that they originated on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, hence the name "Maltese". They are believed to be descended from a Spitz-like dog used for hunting in marshes and wooded areas in Southern Europe; though also thought to have been used for rodent control. Bred down to obtain its small size, the breed has bred true for centuries due to being kept on the island, Malta. Though it is also thought to have originated in Asia and may have helped to form the Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel, and even the Pekingese. They have been seen in Egyptian culture around 300-600 B.C., and on Greek vases around 500 B.C.
Brought to England by Crusaders and nomadic tribes, they soon became very popular with woman, who carried them around in their sleeves. They were favored by royalty, and it is said that Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Josephine Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette may have owned them.
In America, they were first shown as Maltese Lion Dogs around 1877, and were recognized in 1888 by the AKC.
Due to being highly intelligent, the Maltese are very easy to train. In that regard, it is due to being spoiled that most problems arise. They breed itself is known to be hard to housebreak. Because of their size, some owners will use "pee pads", in which the dog learns that it is alright to go to the bathroom inside the house. Even if you are successful with training them to go on a pad, the dog will be accustomed to using paper, and may then intend to go to the bathroom on any paper, or paper-like objects left on the floor. Using a crate is one of the best methods to housebreaking, as well as constant supervision. Use a leash or rope to tether them to yourself; this will keep them from wandering off and relieving themselves. When 100% attention can not be paid to them, they should be put into their crate. Upon waking, before and after playing and eating, and before settling in for the night, they should be let outside to go to the bathroom. By using special treats only used for when they go outside, and lots of praising will soon get the dog onto the right path of being housetrained.
More so than other breeds, the Maltese need a large amount of companionship with their people and do not like being left alone for long periods of time. They can become destructive by chewing and ripping apart your house, as well as constantly barking in their frustration. By giving them a bone, or a toy aimed for mental stimulation, will keep them occupied and less destructive, but it is not a cure. If you are not home for long periods of time, or can't take a break in your schedule for one on one time, then this is not a breed for you.
Standoffish by nature, they need to be provided with enough socialization and exposure to different people, places, and animals at a young age. They are naturally cautious, which if not socialized properly can cause them to become shy and fear aggressive. It is important to make socialization fun for the dog, using treats or other rewards for reacting nice towards strangers, is the best way to encourage your dogs' good behavior. With a tendency to bark, they should be taught that excessive barking is uncalled for.
The life expectancy of the Maltese is around 12-15 years, and there are a number of health problems associated with this breed. Some of these include glaucoma, deafness, thyroid problems, low blood sugar, sensitivity to chemicals and drugs, dental problems, luxating patella, PRA, and entropion. The parents of the Maltese puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.